Q: The topic of “sustainability” has been on everyone's mind for some time now. What exactly does this mean - for my foundry?
A: The definition of sustainability rests on three pillars – ecology, economy and society. The last two of these often are neglected when projects are being developed and assessed. Sustainable products, however, are able to contribute much more to achieving sustainability than people may initially think. Anyone who has ever been to a foundry that has been converted from organic to inorganic binder technology, and has seen how that technology and work environment has changed to the benefit of the workforce, will recognize the economic and social contribution it provides.
When it comes to economic sustainability, the question for foundries is how to increase economic success while at the same time maintaining the quality and availability of resources. This is where metalcasting industry suppliers are able to make a contribution by developing solutions that replace potentially harmful, scarce, or expensive raw materials with others that deliver equal or enhanced performance.
A good example is ASK’s ECOCURE BLUE binder technology for iron casting. It uses the world's first phenolic resin for the cold-box process that does not require statutory labelling in the market, in accordance with the CLP Regulation for the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures.
Therefore, the ECOCURE BLUE binder is no longer considered a hazardous material. The utilization of this innovative cold-box binder technology can result in significantly reduced phenol and formaldehyde emissions.
Foundries want to reduce the emissions resulting from their processes. Emissions have negative and potentially irreversible consequences for the environment, and so foundries are incentivized to adopt new technologies, not only to continuously meet regulatory and environmental requirements but also to satisfy the increasing expectation of social responsibility. Therefore, ASK Chemicals has been researching and developing new products for many years to achieve reductions in emissions caused by their products.
The preservation of resources – rare, readily available, or seemingly ubiquitous and plentiful – is surely another important topic we have to consider. An example of such a resource is lithium, which is extracted from the ground at a grave environmental cost, particularly in South America, where the mineral reserves are being exploited to supply the dramatic increase in demand for lithium to support electric fuel-cell production. ASK Chemicals has been a driving force behind the development of lithium-free sand additive product solutions for quite some time now.
Q: The demands on foundries to reduce CO2 emissions, in order to achieve CO2 neutrality, are becoming increasingly stringent. What is ASK’s assessment of this situation?
A: The obvious approach to achieve CO2 neutrality is to manufacture products from renewable raw materials. But that is just one aspect of product development and cannot be the only driving force.
To achieve CO2 neutrality, designers and manufacturers must take into account a product’s entire lifecycle, and consequently all the processes used to produce the raw materials involved in production are just as important as the manufacturing processes that result in end products with the desired (i.e., CO2 neutral) performance profiles. This is why ASK Chemicals has a clear focus on enhancing its products’ efficacy, in getting things done, while minimizing the burden on the environment from cradle to grave.
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